Kaplan Survey: Medical Schools Predict Another Competitive Admissions Cycle, But Pandemic-Era Changes Like Virtual Interviews May Benefit Applicants

NEW YORK--()--Up 26 percent at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; up 30 percent at Howard University College of Medicine; and at Tulane University School of Medicine, up a whopping 35 percent. All across the United States, applications to medical school increased this past year, and according to a new Kaplan survey, that trend won’t be reversed in the 2021–2022 admissions cycle*. Of the admissions officers surveyed, 50 percent predict that the number of applicants will stay at last cycle’s elevated volume; 33 percent think that number will increase; and only 17 percent believe there will be a decrease in applicants. But while the pandemic-era applicant surge points to another extra competitive admissions cycle, 88 percent say they have made their admissions process more flexible due to the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on everything from MCAT® testing dates to securing the recommended number of clinical hours. This is similar to Kaplan’s finding from 2020, when 93 percent noted increased flexibility.

Among the biggest changes to the admissions process is the advent of the online interview in lieu of an in-person interview—88 percent of medical schools say they extend this option to prospective students now. This was almost unheard of just two years ago. In fact, when asked which pandemic-era change they plan to keep in place moving forward, the online interview was mentioned more than anything else. As one admissions officer shared, “We have a responsibility to our applicants to provide a safe opportunity to interview...All interviews will therefore be virtual and we will continue to determine whether to move to virtual interviews as a more effective mode of delivery even after the pandemic is no longer a factor.” However, another admissions officer said that although this remains an option, all its applicants last year opted for in person interviews.

But while much has changed in the medical school admissions process since the COVID pandemic’s start, there’s one constant, finds the survey: a low MCAT score remains “the biggest application dealbreaker,” outpacing other factors like a low undergraduate GPA.

“COVID’s impact on the medical school admissions landscape is unprecedented and will likely be felt for years to come. With applications predicted to remain at near record levels, it means that future doctors will need an extra strong application overall, from a high MCAT score to a solid GPA, to a compelling personal statement,” said Petros Minasi, senior director of pre-health programs, Kaplan. “On the flip side though, there are some silver linings. Having the option of an online interview will likely come as a big relief to prospective students, who can often spend $10,000 or more traveling from one part of the country to the other for in-person interviews. Plane ticket prices and hotel costs add up quickly since the average applicant applies to between 15 and 20 medical schools. This previously impacted which medical schools cost-conscious prospective doctors applied to, but not for the time being. That’s a good thing for access and equity.”

For more information or to schedule an interview with a medical school admissions expert, contact Russell Schaffer at russell.schaffer@kaplan.com or 917.822.8190.

*Based on the results of a Kaplan e-survey conducted between August 2021 and October 2021 of 61 accredited medical schools across North America.

MCAT® is a registered trademark of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

About Kaplan

Kaplan is a global educational services company that provides individuals, universities, and businesses with a diverse array of services, including higher and professional education, test preparation, language training, corporate and leadership training, student recruitment, online enablement and other university support services. With operations in nearly 30 countries, Kaplan serves nearly 1.1 million students each year and has partnerships with 2,000-plus universities, colleges, schools/school districts and more than 4,000 businesses globally. Kaplan is a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC). For more information, please visit www.kaplan.com.

Note to editors: Kaplan is a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC)


Press Contact: Russell Schaffer, russell.schaffer@kaplan.com, 917.822.8190
Twitter: @KaplanEdNews


Release Summary

A new survey by Kaplan finds that the recent increase in applications to medical school likely won't be reversed this admissions cycle.

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Press Contact: Russell Schaffer, russell.schaffer@kaplan.com, 917.822.8190
Twitter: @KaplanEdNews